You know that bolt of excitement that rips through you when you hear something completely unknown, but extremely exciting for the first time? In all honestly, it's a rare commodity for me these days, because there is very little mystery or mystique in the music world anymore. I am entirely too informed when it comes to music. When I buy tickets to a show I need to know who else is on the bill, what time they play, if I need to see them or not, all so I can admittedly, get in and out a venue with the greatest efficiency. I used to show up early to see unknown openers. Now I generally only do that if I really, really
want to stake out a good spot for the band I came to see. Which is sad, I know. But I think I'm like A LOT of modern music listeners. We have all the info we need to make kneejerk decisions on what we do and do not like or what we should or should not see. Thank you internet, I suppose.
There is one type of live environment where this kind of youthful, naivet still finds me: Festivals. I just can't keep up with everything happening at a festival. Which is maddening! But also means that, every once in a while, something will flare up in front of me that I wasn't expecting.
This happened back in 2012 while covering SXSW...the ultimate, overwhelming music festival. While waiting out an opening set to see this band the entire festival was talking about called The Alabama Shakes, a young band from Chicago called Kids These Days absolutely destroyed the stage...to the point where I recall nothing about the Alabama Shakes' set that day (except drunkenly yelling "Come on Brittany!" over and over and over).
I think it was their youth that was so exciting. They were teenagers; high school friends, I imagine, who had apparently won a battle of the bands in Chicago, convinced Jeff Tweedy to produce their debut album, and were down in Austin, probably skipping school, playing show after show. Their style was also delightfully impossible to pin down. Were they rock? Were they rap? Were they funk or blues or jam music? Yes? I mean, they were all of these things; bluesy riffs and melt your face guitar solos, a rapper and two songwriters, a horn section that was kind of ska and kind of soul at the same time. They had an INCREDIBLE drummer and they were an absolute firecracker on stage when it came to energy. I doubt there was a band having more fun at SXSW that year. I was floored...I was sure EVERYONE would be talking about them upon my arrival back to NYC. But they weren't and I set them aside in my brain until they popped back up on the radar in the run-up to the 2013 edition of SXSW.
2013 would be Baeble's biggest year to date in Austin. In addition to our own event, we had also hooked up with our friends at Hype Machine to capture every freakin' performance during their 5 day run on Austin. And guess who was on the bill? Kids These Days. I was psyched. I told everyone I could about the band...told them they were not to be missed at Hype. And they didn't disappoint. We've got all the proof you need right here.
Kids These Days never did make it though. In fact, they broke up shortly after their performance at SXSW in 2013, rendering our concert video an immediate piece of Baeble history. Which was disappointing at the time, because these kids were so, so good. They could have been someone...they could have been a contender!
Sad story, right? Except it's not, because most of these kids have gone on to see brighter days. That rapper climbing the light towers in our video? That's Vic Mensa, who, along with Sia, snagged a feature on Kanye's early 2015 single, "Wolves". Mensa would perform with both West and Sia during SNL's 40th anniversary super show and later release another collaboration with West titled "U Mad". Roc Nation signed Mensa earlier this year, he released a Skrillex-produced single titled "No Chill", and has the hip hop world desperately waiting on his debut album Traffic to drop sometime in the near future.
Most of the members of the band that backed Mensa up are also busy getting famous too, teaming up with another Chicago rapper you know; Chance The Rapper. Kids These Days, minus Vic Mensa and (from what I can gather) a couple of other members are basically Donnie Trumpet and The Social Experiment now. They are the South Side MC's backup band...perhaps you saw them in their varsity best when Chance became the first truly independent artist to play SNL last weekend?
Not only that, but when the world wanted a follow up to Chance's Acid Rap, he instead took a detour, sending a little love Donnie Trumpet and The Social Experiment's way by rapping on, producing, and arranging much of the band's critically acclaimed album Surf, which they released for free earlier this summer. These days, the two entities are basically inseparable. In fact, both artists were recently declared Chicagoians of the Year by the Chicago Tribune
Why the long drawn out story? I don't know...my original intent probably had something to do with trying to write some meaningful missive on showing up early (which you should!), learning to play dumb again when it comes to concert bills (go in knowing nothing about the openers), and leaving open the possibility for a nice surprise. But really, I've always wanted to give Kids These Days their due by highlighting what I think is a pretty cool piece of Baeble history that most of you probably don't know about. Kids These Days have grown up just a bit. And while this particular assortment of musicians is no more, these kids are all still out there, very much doing their thing. Told you so.